Hong Kong: The Ngong Ping Cable Car and The Big Buddha

Ngong Ping Cable Car, Hong Kong

You can’t really go to Hong Kong without visiting the Big Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha), so more out of obligation than desire, I went to see the 34m tall concrete statue on Lantau Island. Taking the metro, I got off at Tung Chung station. Considering that Hong Kong is made up of a scattered collection of mountainous islands, it’s surprisingly easy to get around. You just get on the metro and swooosh– you’re transmogrified under water, over land, to a different island.

I thought I got there early, but the line for the Ngong Ping cable car station was already so long that I started considering purchasing the more expensive Crystal Cabin tickets, just to be able to use the VIP entrance. However, I figured that it wouldn’t be too long a wait as the cable cars were dropping people off and letting people in at quite a fast pace.

One thing I forgot to consider when estimating the wait was that a substantial number of the other visitors that day refused to wait their turn. There was constant pushing and shoving, and I had to be on guard all the time to prevent people from sneaking in front of me.

A party of 5 split up, and the mom and daughter pretended they needed to go to the restrooms, but they never went. Instead, they just joined the line further upstream and after a few minutes, the rest of the family walked up to join them at their newfound place in the line.

In Denmark, even young children are taught to wait their turn, and if you try to skip the line, prepare to be shot at dawn (ok, maybe not, but people get very upset). Through the years, I’ve realized that this is not the case in a lot of other countries.

I know you have to adapt to local customs when you are visiting other countries, but this particular issue is very hard for me to adapt to. I could come up with 100 reasons why I think people should wait their turn, but I’m sure the ones who can’t see the point in waiting, when they can actually get away with bypassing the queue, also have a number of reasons to back up their stand.

Anyway, when there were around 50 persons in front of me, one of the Ngong Ping cable car guys suddenly yells something that sounded like, “We need two more persons for this car, who’s in?” and I raised my hand immediately. He saw me, and I was allowed to walk by everybody else, including the ones who had been skipping the line earlier, and into the car. Ha! What sweet revenge!

The ride with the cable car was beautiful and one of the absolute highlights of the trip. Even though it was cloudy and heavy raindrops started pouring down, the view was still spectacular and the ride so long that I had plenty of time to enjoy the view and take a lot of pictures.

After getting off the cable car, I walked through Ngong Ping Village, which is basically just a collection of shops and restaurants, and then I was at the stairs leading up to Big Buddha. The clouds were gone so it was a hot walk to the top and I was happy that I had bought a Starbucks iced latte for the road. The Buddha statue was quite a sight, but it was so crowded up there, that I didn’t stay for long.

Before starting my walk down, I even went by the souvenir shop. For a while, I had been talking about buying a Buddha in dark wood or maybe one of those golden Buddha paintings, but inside that souvenir shop, it somehow just felt wrong, turning religious symbols into home décor. I wouldn’t dream of putting up a Jesus painting in my living room (not even a golden one) as I’m not a Christian (I’m not religious at all), so why I even considered purchasing a Buddha painting in the first place, I don’t know, but I can tell you that the Buddha-plans have been irrevocably ditched by now.

On my way down, the wait for the cable car was much shorter and the haze was gone, so I had a beautiful view all the way. Gone were the memories of the struggles earlier that day, and as I disembarked the cable car, I was almost ready to line up again for one more ride, but I didn’t. Instead, I hurried back to Tsim Sha Tsui to meet M for cocktails at Ozone (the bar on the 118th floor at the Ritz-Carlton) and Chinese hotpot at Budaoweng.

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